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84 JOURNAL OP BIBLICAL LITERATURE 



CRYSTAL-GAZING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT 

Paul Haupt 

Johns Hopkins University 

In my paper Babylonian Elements in the Levitic Ritual ( JBL 
19, 56; cf. JHUC, No. 163, p. 48 a ). 1 I discussed the passage 
in Ezek. 21 : 26, The king of Babylon stands at the fork of the 
road to practice divination; he shakes the arrows, consults the 
teraphim, 2 inspects the liver. The Polychrome Bible says 
{Ezekiel, p. 137, 1. 35) : Arrows variously inscribed were thrown 
into a vessel, shaken, and one drawn out, the inscription on 
which decided the question. This belomancy, or divination by 
means of variously marked pointless arrows, was also practiced 
by the pre-Mohammedan Arabs and by certain tribes of the 
North American Indians. 

Grotius ad loc. (1644) quoted St. Jerome's remarks on this 
passage : Bitu gentis suae oracidum consulet, ut mittat sagittas 
suas in pharetram et commisceat eas inscriptas sive signatas 
nominibus singulorum, ut videat, cujus sagitta exeat, et 
quam prius civitatem debeat oppugnare. Hanc autem Graeci 
fieXo/javTiav sive pdf3&ofmvTtav nominant (cf. also Gesenius' Thes. 
1224 a ). The divinatory shafts (Arab, azlam) used by the 
ancient Arabs were without pointed heads and without 
feathers; 3 so we can hardly call them arrows: we might just 
as well describe drumsticks or Chinese chop-sticks as pointless 
arrows. German Pfeil is the English pile, i. e. the pointed head 
of an arrow. The gambling game of the North American 
Indians, played with sticks bearing different marks, is called 
stick-dice (cf. CD s. v. and EB 11 14, 473 b ). At the great Prse- 
nestine sanctuary of Fortune the oracular replies (sortes Prae- 

1 For the abbreviations see above, p. 75, n. 1. 

2 For teraphim, more correctly taraftm, see JBL 33, 166, n. 12 ; of. AJSL 
33, 48; BE 8 6, 9, 11. 

"Cf. B. H. Palmer's translation of the Koran (Oxford, 1880) vol. 1, 
p. 110, n. 4; Anton Huber 's dissertation Tiber das Meisir genannte 
Spiel der heidnischen Araber (Leipzig, 1883) pp. 9.13-15.27.30-32; Geo. 
Jacob, Altarabisches Beduinenleben (Berlin, 1897) p. 110. 



HAUPT: CRYSTAL-GAZING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT 85 

nestinae) were transmitted by means of lettered blocks; see 
Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political 
Science, Series XXVI, Nos. 9-10, p. 45 (Baltimore, 1908). 
Herodotus (4, 67) says that the Scythian diviners used large 

bundles of willow-Wands (/mvTevovTai /5a/3oWi frdvycn 7roXX.fj<Ji) . 

Greek u-«x is the German Weide, English withy, withe. German 
Buchstabe, a letter of the alphabet, denoted originally a stick 
of beechwood inscribed with runes for the purpose of divination ; 
these wands were scattered on a white garment and then picked 
up and combined. 4 To read is in German : lesen, i. e. to pick up, 
to pick out. Also Lat. legere means both to collect and to read. 
According to Tacitus (Germania, 10) the runes were engraved on 
pieces of the branches of a fruit-bearing tree (cf. also Num. 
17:24). Beechnuts are edible, and Lat. fagus, beech, Greek 
sfr^yo's, Doric <£ayos, is connected with fayuv, to eat. The nuts of 
the beech-tree are called beech-mast or buck-mast, 5 and mast 
means in German : fattening. Tacitus says : Virgam frugiferae 
arbori decisam in surculos amputant eosque notis quibusdam 
discretos super candidam vestem temere ac fortuito spargunt. 

Surculi (or sorticulae) would be a more appropriate translation 
for Arab, azldm than sagittae. Heb. hiccim in Ezek. 21 : 26, on 
the other hand, denotes real arrows with pointed metal heads. 
But Heb. qilqdl bah-hiQcim does not mean he shook the arrows, 
although (g has tow avafipdaai pa/3Sov, J commiscens sagittas. 21 
qeset be-girrdiid, he shot arrows (£>seda gerd), may have thought 
of a symbolical act like the one described in 2 K 13 : 14-19 where 
Elisha on his deathbed bids Jehu's grandson, King Joash of 
Israel (798-783 b. a), shoot an arrow through an open window 
eastward, calling it an arrow of Jahveh's victory, an arrow 
of victory over the Arameans. Oefele's explanation (ZAT 20, 
314, 1. 7) that the King of Babylon shot an arrow at the liver 
of the sacrificial animal is untenable. 

EV renders qilqdl bah-hiccim in Ezek. 21 : 26 : he shook the 
arrows to and fro, but AV has he made the arrows bright. This 
is more correct. In Eccles. 10 : 10, which is regarded by several 
exegetes as the most difficult passage of the Book, qilqdl certainly 

*See Weigand's Deutsches Worterbuch, fifth edition (Giessen, 1909) 1, 
299.301; 2, 56. 

5 The name Buckingham was derived by the historian 'William Camden 
(c. 1585) from the beeches predominant in the woods of Buckinghamshire. 



86 JOURNAL OP BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

means, not to shake, but to grind, polish, whet. The old pessi- 
mist (c. 100 b. c.) says: 

9 He who quarries stones, may be hurt by them; 

he who splits wood, may cut himself.* 
10 If/3 he has not ground the face, 

the hewer must exert great force. 6 

(a) 9 by them (/3) 10 he has dulled the iron, that is, 

The Hebrew text -should be read as follows : 

. a pD» oyy yftin Dro-a^. o»:dn jn?» 9 

:3tfinrr w D ,l ?*m bpbp dms vb~patt 

i i - i ii i i i 

sim bmn nnp. 10 (/}) 02 9 («) 

Bahem after ie'ageb is enclitic ; it should be read fra/wn = 6am 
(cf. gloss a) and German lahm, lame, or Ethiop. lahm, bull, 
Amhar. Mm; Dillmann 2 , p. 80; JBL 34, 49, 1. 3). Issaken 
is derived from sakkm, knife (BA 3, 580, 1. 26). I published 
this explanation twenty-six years ago, but I have just noticed 
that Moses Mendelssohn suggested the same derivation; see 
Der Prediger Salomo von dem Terfasser des Phadon (Anspach, 
1771) p. 127. Also Hahn (cf. AJSL 32, 141) said that saltan 
meant to cut, wound, hurt; it was connected with sakdk from 
which sakkm, knife (Prov. 23 : 2) was derived. But sakkm (or 
sdkm) in Prov. 23:2 means muzzle (JBL 33, 290). There is, 
of course, a post-Biblical word sakkm, knife, Aram, sakkind, 
which has passed into Arabic as sikkin. — At the end of the 
second line we must supply hah-hogeb which means both stone- 
cutter and wood-cutter. — The Piel qehd is not intransitive, but 

e Ludwig Levy, Das Buch Qoheleth (Leipzig, 1912) renders: so muss 
man die Krdfte sehr anstrengen; E. Podechard, L'Ecclesiaste (Paris, 
1912) translates: Alors on doit redoubler de force. The second half of 
v. 10 must be combined with the second half of v. 19; both are misplaced 
glosses to tib.e secondary (Stoic) passage 7: 12; see Haupt, Koheleth 
(Leipzig, 1905) p. 18; Ecclesiastes (Baltimore, 1905) p. 25. "We need not 
read hak-TcaSir, but haMer should stand at the end of this hemistich: itron 
hoJcmd haksir means: The advantage of experience is efficiency; he who 
has acquired adequate knowledge and skill is efficient. Syr. de-Id Tcdserd 
means inefficient, ineffectual ; cf. also Assyr. Tcuseru = Tcus&ru, fitness 
(AJSL 32, 66). 



HAUPT: CEYSTAL-GAZING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT 87 

means he blunted, dulled (so, correctly, Hahn and Graetz). — 
The ue-hu after qehd hab-barzel means that is. This was 
inserted by a tertiary glossator who regarded im-lo fanim qilqdl 
as an explanation of im-qehd hab-barzel; cf. the second ue-hu 
in Kimhi's comments on Ezek. 21: 26, cited below, n. 7, and the 
translation of Matt. 27:46 in Delitzsch's NT in Hebrew. In 
Shirwani's Agron (a Hebrew-Persian dictionary compiled by 
Moses of Shirwan in 1459) the Hebrew explanations added to 
Persians words are always preceded by se-hu (Bacher's ue-hu, 
ZAT 16, 231, 1. 2 is due to an oversight) . 

If lo-fanim qilqdl were not preceded by im, the 16 before 
fanim would be strange (2 S 3 : 34; Num. 16 : 29 are different). 
Hahn's explanation that lo-fanim means non-face = back is, 
of course, impossible. Scholz (1901) renders: Er, der Nicht- 
Erste schuttelt {die Loose) und ermutigt die S char en (cf. JBL 
32, 111, n. 13). In my translation of Ecclesiastes, published 
(1891) in JHUC, No. 90, I regarded ue-hu lo-fanim qilqdl as 
an explanation of im-qehd hab-barzel, but I am now convinced 
that im-lo fanim qilqdl is the original reading. Panim is a 
double plural derived from pdni, an old plural of pu, mouth 
(AJSL 22, 258). Also Syr. pdtd, face, and puma, mouth, are 
used of the edge of a sword (Heb. pi-hdrb, but pene-harb in 
Ezek. 21:21). The face of the ax-head is the front part in 
contradistinction to the back. The face of a hammer is the 
striking surface of the head, and the same term is used of the 
edge of a cutting-tool. To grind means to smooth or sharpen 
by friction, give a smooth surface or edge to a thing. The 
intransitive adjective qaldl means smooth and glossy, polished, 
burnished. "We find nehost qaldl, burnished bronze, in Ezek. 
1 : 7 and Dan. 10 : 6. After the edges of tools have been ground 
on a revolving grind-stone a whetstone may be used for sharpen- 
ing and polishing them. In Arabic we have the causative gdqala, 
to grind, polish, with partial assimilation of the causative s to 
the q (see Mic. 98). In 1 S 13: 21 qilleson seems to be a cor- 
ruption of qalqel sinnot, sharpening of the teeth (of a saw). 

Qilqdl certainly means he ground, he polished. Also heg barur 
(Is. 49 : 2 ; cf. Jer. 51 : 11) is not a smooth arrow, or a sharpened 
arrow, but a polished shaft (so Cheyne in the Polychrome 
Bible). The king of Babylon did not shake the arrows, but he 
polished them for the purpose of scrying. You can induce pic- 



88 JOURNAL OP BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

torial hallucinations by gazing into a glass or crystal sphere or 
some equivalent medium such as a sword-blade, or a polished 
arrow-head, or a polished finger-nail. Crystal-gazing is practiced 
all over the world ; it has been used for the purpose of divination 
from times immemorial (EB 11 7, 567). In his article on Ink-, 
Oil- and Mirror-gazing Ceremonies in Modern Egypt ( JAOS 36, 
40) Worrell cites David Kimhi's (c. 1200) remarks on Ezek. 
21 : 26. Kimhi says of the acts performed by the king of Baby- 
lon: All this belongs to acts of divination, and the interpreta- 
tion of qilqdl is as in ue-hu lo-fanim qilqdl, that is, they 
grind and polish the surface of the iron of the arrow until it is 
very bright; then the diviners gaze on it, just as they gaze on 
the thumb of the hand, on the nail, because of the brightness 
of the nail; so they gaze on a sword, and so also on a mirror, 
and so they gaze on the liver because it has brightness (pos- 
sesses gloss or a reflecting surface). 7 Kimhi's explanation is 
quoted by Worrell from Daiches' interesting monograph on 
Babylonian Oil Magic in the Talmud and in the later Jewish 
Literature, printed in the publications of the Jews' College, 
London, 1913. 

The liver could be used for this purpose just as well as a hand 
painted with black soot and oil, as described in the Hebrew 
magical texts Nos. 2-4 and 6, published by Daiches. EB 11 7, 
567 a states that the tribes of the Northwest-Indian frontier use 
the liver of an animal for scrying. Grazing on the smooth shiny 
surface of a liver is no doubt a more primitive form of divina- 
tion than the elaborate system of hepatoscopy which we find 
in the cuneiform omen-tablets (contrast EB 11 20, 103; JBL 
35, 46). The primary connotation of Heb. ro'e, the older name 
(1 S 9:9) for nabi, prophet (TOCR 1, 271) may have been 
gazer, crystal-seer (contrast. JBL 28, 53; 35, 56. 126/7. 223). 
Grotius (1644) concluded his remarks on ra'd bak-kabed with 
the statement : Nee dubitandum puto quin artes Mae a Chaldaeis 
ad Lydos, a Lydis ad Hetruscos venerint (cf. JBL 19, 57). 
Marcus v. Niebuhr remarked at the end of the preface to his 
Geschichte Assurs und Babels (Berlin, 1857) with reference to 

'Kimhi says: Kim SpSp D'JS &6 K1H1 1D3 bpSp EnVfll DOpH "tyjTDn HT Sni 

1D3 bopn ,L ?jn n ['Km ikd vm rprr» -\y )'nn hr\2 us ptyB^ai pnriDty 
D'sn pi nsnD2 pi eyas D"«n pi pia'sn m-vm 1 ? pasa th |ni33 dwib> 
nivm iS vrw 1222 . 



HAUPT: CRYSTAL-GAZING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT 89 

the Turanian population between the Euphrates and the Indus : 
Das nachste ist eine grundliche Erforschung des Baskischen. 
Schwieriger, aber wichtiger, ist der Versuch, ob dieser Schlussel 
das Batsel des Etruskischen lost (cf. op. cit. pp. 144. 423). 

Just as ro'e, seer, is connected with mar'd, mirror (Ex. 38 : 8 ; 
Arab, mir'dt) so we have from the stem of hoze, seer (Arab. 
Mzi) in Syriac the noun mahzitd, mirror {cf. ZAT 34, 144) = 
Ethiop. malicet (with partial assimilation of the z). The ancient 
mirrors were of polished metal, so there was no essential dif- 
ference between a polished arrow-head and a speculum. We 
have small looking-glasses with long handles (e. g. laryngeal 
mirrors and dentists' mirrors). Also Heb. me'onen, diviner, 
may be a synonym of ro'e and hoze, gazer, scryer, crystal-gazer; 
it is a Pi' lei from the stem of 'din, eye (Mic. 48, 1. 5). In Text 
2 published by Daiches ie'aiien is used for scrying? In Text 
1 the nail of the right thumb of a boy is polished and rubbed 
with pure olive oil, and the boy gazes on this polished nail 
{cf. PSBA 20, 85). The spirits conjured by this crystal-gazing 
are called sari bohn, the princes (or angels; cf. Dan. 10: 13. 20) 
of the thumb, or sdre gipporn, princes of the nail. In the 
cuneiform ritual texts (ZE 216, 44; 218, 2) the barn — seer 
(JBL 19, 57) is called bel gnpur ubdni anni, the master of the 
nail of this finger (Daiches, op. cit. p. 29). The explanation 
of Ezek. 21 : 26 given by Kimhi and preserved in AV is 
undoubtedly correct; so there is no reference to belomancy 
in OT. 

Nor is there any allusion to rhabdomancy, i. e. divination by 
a rod or wand, especially a dousing- or divining-rod. It is true, 
AV renders Hos. 4:12 a {cf. JBL 35, 185/6, also 180): My 
people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto 
them, but the meaning of this line, at the end of which we must 
supply qasm, oracle, is : 

My people consult their tree, 

its branches give answers to them. 

The oracular answer was given by the rustling of the branches 
of the tree {cf. JBL 35, 24. 45. 67; contrast ibid. 47). At the 

8 Thereupon the hoy shall gaze steadily at the palm (lit. inside) of the 
hand (TH "jin Tan "ijrjn |"jr t«l). Also Syr. ' aiiin means to eye, to look. 



90 JOURNAL OP BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

ancient sanctuary of Dodona in Epirus the interpreters of the 
oracles listened to the rustling of an old oak tree. Also 
the Borussians had oracular oaks. Schiller's Jungfrau von 
Orleans says (1. 2584) : Hdtt' es nie in deinen Zweigen, heil'ge 
Eiche, mir gerauscht; cf. 1. 1065 : Und eine heilige Eiche steht 
daneben, dutch vieler Wunder Segenskraft beruhmt; 1. 407: 
Er sprach zu mir aus dieses Bournes Zweigen; 1. 100 : Seltsamer 
Stimmen wundersamen Klwng vernimmt man oft aus seinen 
dustren Zweigen. 

In Gen. 12 : 6 and Deut. 11 : 30 an oracular tree is called elcm 
more, tree of an oracle-giver, and in Jud. 9 : 37 we find elon 
me'onenim, tree of the seers (cf. above, p. 89). More appears 
in Ethiopic as man, diviner (ZAT 29, 283, n. 2; contrast NBSS 
38, n. 2). Certain Jews in Arabia say men instead of more, 
just as Russian Jews pronounce 6 as e, e. g. Mese for Mole, 
Yiddish ret for German rot (AJSL 19, 234). In Ethiopic we 
find d for e in several foreign words, especially before a fol- 
lowing r, e. g. Ualarios = Valerius (or Valerianus). 

Heb. maqqel (from qaldl) means a switch or twig. Heb. 
qald' , to sling, and saqdl, to stone, are derived from the same 
root (JBL 34, 184; 35, 323). "We use to sling also in the sense 
of suspending loosely (cf. Arab, istaqdlla bi-'l-hdmli and Assyr. 
suqallulu, JBL 35, 322). The original meaning of maqqel, twig, 
is hanging loosely; cf. the German schwanken, schwenken, 
schwingen = to swing; also Schwuppe, switch (contrast ZAT 11, 
170). For forms of the verba mediae geminatae conformed to 
the stems primae n cf. my remarks on Syr. mdrsd, pestle (for 
marresd, from rasas) in VHOK 232, n. 4. 

In 2 S 5 : 22-25 we read that when David enquired of Jhvh, 
he was told, When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops 
of the baca B trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself; for then Jahveh 
has gone out before thee to smite the host of the Philistines (cf. 
EB 3353, § 2, ad fin.). The rustling of the trees was regarded 
as the sound of the march of Jhvh and His host ; cf. Josh. 5 : 14 ; 
1 K 22 : 19 ; 2 Mace. 2 : 25, 10 : 29 ; Matt. 26 : 53, and the quotation 
from Doughty in EB 166: The melaika are seen in the air 
like horsemen tilting to and fro. We find similar ideas in con- 
nection with the Germanic raging host which is called in Sweden 

9 The translations mulberries, balsam-trees, poplars, asps (EB 11 2, 766 a ) 
are unwarranted. 



HATJPT: crystal-gazing in the old testament 91 

Odens Jagt. The Wild Huntsman is a reflex of Odin or Woden, 
the chief god of the Northern pantheon. In Lebrecht Dreves ' 
poem Waldandacht (set to music by Franz Abt) the conclu- 
sion of the first stanza Friih morgens, wenn die Hahne krahn 
is Der Hebe Gott geht durch den Wald. This is also the refrain 
of the third stanza (cf. Gunkel, Genesis 5 , p. 19; BL 74, n. 24). 
Pope says that the poor Indian saw God in clouds or heard 
Him in the winds. 

The two triplets in Hos. 4 should be rendered as follows : 

4, 16 Like a recalcitrant heifer {} is Israel, 

like a {refractory} ram in the pasture ; 

17 Wedded to idols is Ephraim, 

resting in a company of tipplers. 

18 They are wanton, [departing from me,] 

preferring [] disgrace to their glory. 

14 b They go aside with the harlots, 

they lie with the hierodules ; 10 
13 a On the tops of the mountains they sacrifice, 

on the hills they bring fragrant offerings. 11 
12 a My people consult their tree, 

its branches give answers to them. 

I have published a translation of the following two triplets in 
AJSL 32, 72, and the Hebrew text is given there on p. 69. The 
two secondary pentastichs in Hos. 4:1-5, which should be pre- 
fixed to the genuine triplet in 4 : 16-18, are translated in AJSL 
32, 73 (Hebrew text on p. 72). Also 6 : 4 a (What shall I do to 
thee, Ephraim? What shall I do to thee, Israel?) is a gloss 
to 4 : 16. The Hebrew text of Hos. 4 : 16-18+14 b . 13 b . 12 a , apart 
from the secondary and tertiary additions, should be read as 
follows : 

10 Cf. Am. 2: 7; Herod. 1, 199 (^a rod ipov) and Strabo 272; Martin 
Hartman, Der islamische Orient (Berlin, 1909) 2, 7.203.211. 

11 Cf. Driver 's notes on the translation of Leviticus in the Polychrome 
Bible, p. 63, 1. 10; see also JBL 35, 205.214. Heb. qetSrt, sweet vapor 
of sacrifice (German Opferduft; cf. Ps. 66: 15) corresponds to the Greek 
Ki>T<ra, Lat. nidor (= cnidos) . The meaning of the verbs qittSr and hiqtir 
is not to burn incense, but Kviaav. 



92 



JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 



: njpD3 {mb\ ^ddd 
: d^o'd tico i i"?-mn 

: ripp» nijpjn ♦'pin 



"^"Ife" iTpb n"|M 4, 16 

[nnKD] i$n rrjrn 

iTia» murrey dh-'d 
•ran onnn wio-ty 



17 
18 

14b 
13" 
12" 



The OT contains some allusions to divinations by means of 
listening to the rustling of trees or scrying and crystal-gazing, 
but no reference to rhabdomancy and belomancy (contrast DB 
3, 152 b ; 4, 598 b ; BB 1117; JBL 35, 225, below).